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As far as tough defeats go, Newcastle’s one-point loss to Manly back in round 10 was as heartbreaking as they come. 

Just ask Knights enforcer Willie Mason, a bloke who still has vivid memories of sitting slumped in the middle of Brookvale Oval after Daly Cherry-Evans slotted a 40-metre field goal with just three seconds left on the clock to seal a remarkable one-point win.     

Mason was almost reduced to tears after that match, but flash forward six weeks and the veteran bookend says that loss to Manly kick-started the team's belief it could beat the NRL's best teams.      

“I think we’ve been grabbing confidence from every game since the Manly game and even Canterbury," Mason told Knights TV in the sheds after Sunday's 16-10 win over Parramatta. 

“We just haven’t been putting that whole 80 minutes together.

"So I think with the Canterbury loss, then we had a bit of a down game against the Panthers.

"Then we came up against Manly and played so well, so we’ve been building to get a win from there.

"We’ve been training well and doing everything right, so it was only a matter of time before we strung a couple of games together."

On the back of the triumph over the Eels, the Knights have moved up to 14th position on the competition table with the bye this weekend.

Throw in a decent run home with six games at Hunter Stadium in their remaining nine matches and Mason has no doubts they can still challenge for the finals.   

"This is the sort of group, and most teams know it out there, if we do get our butts together we can do some damage," he says. 

"So hopefully we haven’t left it too late, but we are definitely going to try and make a run.

"We wouldn’t be putting in performances like that or putting our butts on the line and defending like that, if we had given up.

"We would have lost all confidence a couple of weeks ago and just racked it, so there is definitely no give up in this team.

"So we are just going to keep fighting to the death and see what happens.”

If the Knights' defence against Parramatta is any indication, then they are every chance of winning their fair share of games in the coming weeks.  

Mason says his side can take a heap of confidence from repeatedly repelling the fast-finishing Eels. 

"I think that was our best defensive effort of the year," he enthuses. 

“And it could have been better as well, because a couple of Parramatta's tries we could have stopped easily.

“I should have probably got Hayne in that first half – if it was another 10 metres (laughs). 

“But I think it was a pretty good effort, in both attack and defence, so it was a whole group effort.

“To hold Parramatta to just 10 points with blokes like Hayne, Tonga and Sandow is great from us, because they can attack that well.

“They’ve also got a massive pack, but we all stood up and got the job done today.”